November 2013

 {Photo credit: USAID}Lisa McGregor-Mirghani (right), Local Capacity Team Lead for USAID in Kenya, speaking at the Institutional Strengthening Symposium in Nairobi. Dr. Daraus Bukenya (center) and colleagues also participated on the panel.Photo credit: USAID

This post originally appeared on USAID's IMPACT Blog.

Under its 2010 constitution, Kenya’s major reforms include a devolved government in which civil society organizations (CSOs) have an enhanced contribution to strengthening health and social systems. The reforms are timely, as other donor mandates, such as USAID Forward, also place greater emphasis on country-led, country-driven development assistance, with more direct investment in partner governments and local organizations, and stronger public-private partnerships. To achieve these mandates, local capacity must be developed so that these institutions can play their part.

 {Photo credit: Yvonne Otieno/MSH}Josephine Mbiyu of the USAID-funded LMS project discusses the localization of leadership for strengthening health systems in MSH Kenya projects.Photo credit: Yvonne Otieno/MSH

Effective leaders and institutions are the foundations of strong health institutions.

~ Dr. Daraus Bukenya, MSH country representative of Kenya

The Management Sciences for Health Kenya country office hosted a panel discussion on leadership at the Devex Partnerships Forum held in Nairobi. This was a unique opportunity for the over 120 participants who attended the session to discuss practical examples of how leadership translates to better health outcomes within and beyond the panel session. The right to health, efficiency in delivery of services, leadership training, and informed decision-making emerged as key themes during the panel discussion. Some of the key questions raised during the session included:

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman.}Photo credit: Warren Zelman.

Today, November 12, is World Pneumonia Day. Pneumonia is the leading cause of death among children under five, killing more children annually than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. About 1.1 million children under five died of pneumonia last year, 99 percent in developing countries.

No child should die from pneumonia. Usually caused by bacteria or virus, pneumonia most often manifests in children as a cough and difficulty breathing. The global child health community has proven strategies to prevent and treat pneumonia including vaccines, immediate exclusive breastfeeding, handwashing with soap, access to sanitation, oral rehydration solution with zinc, safe water, amoxicillin, and vitamin A.

{Photo credit: Todd Shapera}Photo credit: Todd Shapera

Co-authored with Elly Mugumya, director of the LMG/IPPF partnership, this post originally appeared on the LMGforHealth.org Blog.

Hearing the perspectives of women leaders is an effective way of amplifying the collective voices of women to bring about change. Women often do not have a platform to tell their stories. These stories are personal and resonate with those of other women who aspire to leadership positions. The USAID-funded Leadership, Management & Governance (LMG) Project has captured some of these stories in a new publication, An Open Mind and a Hard Back: Conversations with African Women Leaders.

 {Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Democratic Republic of CongoPhoto credit: Warren Zelman

November 14 is World Diabetes Day. This year’s theme, “Protect our future,” emphasizes the importance of engaging and inspiring local communities to promote awareness and education on the effects of diabetes and its preventable risk factors. 

Suffering from chronic fatigue, weight loss, and repeated infections, twelve-year-old Hadija had made frequent visits to the national referral and teaching hospital in the capital city of her Sub-Saharan African country. At first, doctors presumed she had HIV, testing both her and her parents. Then physicians looked for cancer. After several follow-up visits and investigations, the physicians tested for and confirmed that Hadija had type 1 diabetes. 

Despite finally arriving at an accurate diagnosis, the hospital struggled to track down and provide the next key ingredient Hadija needed: human insulin as treatment for her disease. Eventually, Hadija was fortunate that her doctors were able to get her the needed treatment in time and that a health care provider and patient support group, along with community volunteers, were able to help her adhere to treatment. Other children have not fared as well.

Think diabetes is a problem of the rich and developed countries? Think again. 

 {Photo credit: Ben Greenberg/MSH}Priya Bery and Professor Peter Anyang’ Nyong’OPhoto credit: Ben Greenberg/MSH

Earlier this month, on November 5, at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, MSH held a special event: a photography exhibition and global health discussion, moderated by Tom Ashbrook of NPR's On Point. The photos on display were by the 2012 MSH photography fellows who documented our life-saving work in Africa with people at all levels of the health system—from households to health workers to doctors and nurses to government officials and ministers of health. 

Tom Ashbrook led our panelists in a discussion of their visions for a world where everyone has the opportunity for a healthy life. The panelists were:

 {Photo: Lourdes de la Peza}Keziah Samaila from Township Clinic, left, and Joy Otuokere, right, from Zuba Health Center, singing during the LDP+ training in Gwagwalada, Nigeria.Photo: Lourdes de la Peza

This post originally appeared on USAID’s IMPACT blog. USAID is observing World AIDS Day this year by celebrating ten years of HIV and AIDS work under PEPFAR.

More than 85,000 infants in Nigeria are at risk of HIV transmission from their mothers every year. While the number of HIV-positive pregnant women who receive antiretroviral treatment (ART) is increasing, robust efforts to improve coverage are needed if national targets (PDF) for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) are to be met in 2015.

{Photo credit: Todd Shapera}Photo credit: Todd Shapera

This post originally appeared on Devex.com.

Worldwide, there are severe shortfalls in the health workforce—not just in the quantity of doctors, nurses and other health workers, but in their management, performance and geographical distribution.

These shortfalls are particularly glaring in light of the global movement for universal health coverage, progress toward which will require a high-functioning workforce.

This month’s third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, which convened global health policymakers in Recife, Brazil, trumpeted the need for political commitment to health workforce strengthening. With UHC a top priority of conference sponsors like the World Health Organization, conference discussions were framed as seeking solutions—such as improving retention and performance, or health workers’ advocacy—“toward UHC.”

{Photo credit: Warren Zellman}Photo credit: Warren Zellman

I remember attending the Durban international AIDS conference in 2000, my first. That was the one where everything was going to turn around and we were going get a handle on the epidemic. Nelson Mandela spoke at that one, in a hall that was the size of three football fields. And the crowd was joyous, raucous, the noise was deafening and it was one of the most memorable days of my life. 

Before Mandela took the stage, a choir made up of kids—none more than 9 or 10 years of age and many much younger—took the stage to sing tribute to the great man and those of us gathering there.

It was charming and sweet. Everyone had a huge grin on their faces. And then I realized that this group of kids was special, maybe overheard someone nearby or perhaps the MC say that this, “was THAT group.” All were infected with the virus, and as I watched these gorgeous children singing so strong, moving and smiling and clapping with everyone, I knew, knew inside, that they probably wouldn’t live much longer.

{Photo by Warren Zelman}Photo by Warren Zelman

Advancing a health systems strengthening approach to HIV & AIDS requires advocacy and education, especially of decision makers. In honor of World AIDS Day 2013 (December 1, observed in some places December 2) we invite you to commemorate the day wherever you are, and help our global family achieve an AIDS-free generation.

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